Whistleblower Reactions: ‘Third-Rate Behavior’ or ‘Hoax’

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan blasted actions disclosed in a whistleblower report on President Donald Trump’s interactions with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as “third-rate, banana republic behavior.” 

The whistleblower report, which was released Thursday morning, alleges that Trump pressured Zelensky to investigate allegations regarding former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, at a time foreign aid was being withheld. The complaint also claims that White House officials attempted to conceal records related to the matter. 

“I just read the Whistleblower’s report. It’s as straightforward as can be,” said Ryan, D-13 Ohio, on Thursday in a statement on Twitter. He accused Trump and his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, of “shaking down” Zelensky and “withholding needed defensive support” – until they got dirt on Biden. 

“This is third-rate, banana republic behavior,” Ryan said.

“Our intelligence officials are the best in the world, and when one of them is so worried about our country that they risk their career and reputation, I take that very seriously,” U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said. 

“Hardworking people in Ohio don’t get to pick and choose which laws they get to follow and neither does the president – no one is above the law,” he continued. “We know the President tried to get a foreign government to undermine American democracy. We have a responsibility to find out exactly what happened.” 

The office of U.S. Sen. Rob Portman put out an email about his appearance on Fox News Wednesday night, after the release of notes earlier in the day related to the investigation but before the release of the whistleblower report on Thursday. 

Based on his review of what was released Wednesday, Portman, who co-chairs the Ukraine caucus in the Senate, said that he did not see the “quid pro quo” that Democrats are claiming. Further, had House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats waited another day to look at the notes they might not have moved forward with their impeachment inquiry. 

“Never did the president threaten the aid, nor did he with me, in other words, he never linked the aid to corruption in general or certainly not an investigation in particular, so he talked about the fact that he wanted the Europeans to do more and was concerned about sending taxpayer dollars to Ukraine when the Europeans weren’t doing what they should be doing,” he said. 

“I just don’t understand how they can say it’s because there’s a quid pro quo and then we find out there’s not a quid pro quo that they are still proceeding,” he added. 

Ohio Democratic Party chairman David Pepper described Portman’s involvement in “the Trump administration’s disinformation campaign about the Ukraine scandal” as “shameful.”

Portman continues “to repeat lies about Donald Trump’s rationale for holding back support for Ukraine,” Pepper said. 

“The whistleblower complaint makes clear that Trump wanted the Ukrainian president to ‘play ball’ on his personal agenda before he would talk or meet with him,” he continued. “Once Trump finally talked with the Ukrainian president, the transcript recounts how Trump asked him for a political ‘favor.’ Portman keeps volunteering to cover up for Trump and spout his talking points – which begs the question, what does Rob know about the Ukraine scandal and when did he know it?”

Kayleigh McEnany, national press secretary for Trump’s re-election campaign, called the whistleblower complaint “an even bigger hoax than the Russia delusion,” referring to the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. 

“It’s built on second-hand information echoed by the biased fake news media. We now know that this account was cobbled together by a partisan bureaucrat with ‘no direct knowledge,’ represented by an attorney for Hillary Clinton and donor to Joe Biden’s campaign,” she said. “Democrats are trying to block the inevitable re-election of President Trump because they know they can’t beat him fair and square at the ballot box.”

A statement by Biden’s campaign manager, Kate Bedingfield, reiterated the candidate’s statement from a TV appearance Wednesday night, in which Biden called the development of the whistleblower news “18 out of 10 on the outlandish scale.”

“Donald Trump’s abuse of power makes him one of the most divisive, unfit individuals to occupy the Oval Office in our nation’s history,” the statement continued. “His willingness to sell out our national interests for his personal gain endangers our security and his attempts to cover it up put the stability of our democracy at risk.”

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.